Alumneye in Tech: Tap into the world of influencer marketing with Node

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By Samreen Maqsood

Ryerson retail management alumnus Armin Faraji is on a mission to democratize the creator economy and make influencer deals accessible to more brands through Node, an influencer marketing startup. 

Founded in 2018 by Faraji and co-founder Mackenzie Dérival, Node initially focused on restaurants, but has now expanded into targeting all brands and businesses. The platform allows companies to have their products sampled and promoted by thousands of verified micro-influencers. 

Influencers first set up a free account. Then, brands and businesses post their products with a brief description and creators will apply to create Instagram posts and videos. 

Companies have the option of either shipping out the products or having the creators come to their business location for pickup. The products are eventually be promoted by the influencer within seven days.

Anyone with over 2,000 followers can download the Node mobile app for IOS or Android and get verified based on the quality of their content, their engagement and audience. 

“The product is something that anyone can figure out on their own. We’re essentially building the Canva of influencer marketing.”

“For a micro-influencer, Node is like a personal shopping app. But you’re able to get paid by brands and to use your content as a currency to get free products, or to get products and services from various local businesses,” said Fariji.

Node is tailored to small-to-medium sized businesses that don’t have the means to hire a full-time influencer marketing team or agency, according to Faraji, adding that the startup has worked with over 650 brands across North America. 

“Our goal is to make influencer-marketing a real possibility and make it accessible to small businesses and midsize brands that haven’t been able to leverage influencers, due to a lack of budget or a lack of access to a marketing team or an agency,” said Fariji. 

The company’s approach to the influencer marketing space is focused on simplicity and accessibility, ensuring that Node clients have all the tools they need while allowing them to be independent in their business decisions. 

“We don’t do outbound sales, we don’t do demos,” noted Faraji. “The product is something that anyone can figure out on their own. We’re essentially building the Canva of influencer marketing.”

Frustrated with the challenges he faced while managing influencer relations for various brands, Faraji teamed up with Dérival, who is geared with experience in e-commerce, to disrupt the way brands work with content creators. 

“We feel that the influencer marketing and creator economy is not an equitable world. There’s a lot of work to be done to provide more opportunities for creators.”

Faraji graduated in 2016 from Ryerson’s retail management program, where he started his journey as a serial entrepreneur. 

“When I was in Ryerson, my instructors and the faculty at the school of retail management were very supportive and accommodating for me wanting to run my own business,” he said, explaining he worked a full-time job while attending school as a full-time student. 

Fresh out of school, Faraji took on the role of e-commerce manager at Vivah Jewellery where he supported 45 brick-and-mortar stores across Canada. He eventually left the company a year later to launch his own social media agency called Growth Group, a Toronto-based social media agency. 

Pivoting to meet the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, Faraji collaborated with his childhood friend Bobby Rasouli and founded Sniffly, a virtual therapy program for smell and test recovery. 

Now as the CEO of Node, Faraji takes care of the business and sales responsibilities alongside Alexa Tang, the sales lead at the startup. He is responsible for driving more clients towards their platform, marketing and managing day-to-day operations. 

“Over the past year, my role centered around fundraising and investor relations,” Faraji explained. “In the past 10 months, we’ve raised about $600,000 from various angel and institutional investors.” Node’s investors include executives at Shopify, Udemy, Shutterstock, T-Mobile and Hershey’s.

In late 2021, Node had expanded to the U.S. as Faraji and his team looked to obtain a customer base of over 2,000 brands using the platform. 

“We just want to make influencer marketing more accessible to entrepreneurs and businesses that haven’t had the opportunity before. And of course, we also want to help more creators build an income for themselves,” he said. 

“We feel that the influencer marketing and creator economy is not an equitable world. There’s a lot of work to be done to provide more opportunities for creators.”

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